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Women to Inspire You: Breaking down barriers and doing what they love

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 In celebration of International Women’s Day!

There’s nothing more inspiring than someone following their passion – especially when they have had to overcome societal norms, adversity and discrimination to do so. That’s why this International Women’s Day, we are celebrating eight PADI Women who stand out and inspire us daily.  They have overcome many obstacles to turn their passion into a life mission to save the ocean – the planet’s largest and most important ecosystem that desperately needs their help. What’s more, through their bold choices and by living through example, they are encouraging others to do the same.

1. Using Science to Save Sharks: Gador Muntaner

Image credit: Rafael Fernandez

Originally from Spain, Gádor put on a mask, fins, and snorkel for the first time in Mallorca Island when she was 3 years old. When she turned 16, she got her open water diver certification and that’s when she knew that she would dedicate her life to the ocean. At 22 she achieved her PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor certification in order to be able to share with everybody what she loves the most: the feeling of diving.

In 2016 she moved to La Paz, Mexico to turn her passion into her work: the study and conservation of sharks. She did her undergraduate thesis studying sharks, as she had always dreamed, becoming a student of Pelagios Kakunjá Marine Conservation. Her research project focused on the movement patterns of the silvertip shark (Carcharhinus albimarginatus) in the Revillagigedo Archipelago.

Currently, she is pursuing her master’s degree studying contamination in Great White sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) tissues in Isla Guadalupe, Mexico. This love for sharks has led Gádor to travel the world–most recently running a scientific study in Spain on the positive impact sustainable shark tourism can have on the ocean.

Follow her mission to save sharks on Instagram: @gadormunta

2. Building a New Generation of Ocean Guardians: Zandile Ndhlovu

Image credit: Jacki Bruniquei

Zandile Ndhlovu is the first Black African Freediving Instructor in South Africa and the founder of The Black Mermaid Foundation, an organisation seeking to improve diversity in marine conservation and sports. Zandile’s inspiring work centres around creating the magical first encounter that exposes youth – most of whom would never have the opportunity –  to experience the ocean. As an ocean conservationist, diversity and inclusion specialist, and avid speaker and storyteller, she uses these skills to advocate for a blue planet in which the ocean is accessible – and protected – by all, regardless of race, gender and religion.

Zandile is a change agent, passionate about human potential being the critical currency that creates the worlds we want to live in while focusing on the collective ability to bring change. She’s leading that change one young person at a time in South Africa – and around the world.

Follow her journey to creating more diversity in the ocean on Instagram: @zandithemermaid

3 + 4. Giving the Ocean a Voice: Mermaid Elle and Brandee Anthony

Image credit: Brandee Anthony

Brandee Anthony is a professional mermaid, photographer and PADI Mermaid instructor based out of Vero Beach, Florida. She started her dive company, Mermaid Freedive, in 2019 and offers guests the opportunity to become PADI Freedive and Mermaid certified in an all-inclusive retreat format. Brandee has over 1.7 million online followers where she shares her love for the water and creating content that brings happiness to her viewers through photography and videography.

Follow her mission to help others connect with themselves and the water on Instagram: @brandee_anthony

Image credit: @themermaidelle

Mermaid Elle is the most popular mermaid on TikTok and makes a full-time living splashing her tail as a PADI Mermaid Instructor. She takes great pride in growing teaching more mermaids, saying “becoming a mermaid is really just being yourself in your most powerful form. We call ourselves mer-sisters and mer-brothers because mermaids are one species, one family, one school of fish!” She’s already underway training up other mermaids as an official PADI Mermaid Instructor and is making a full-time living as a professional mermaid.

Elle believes that it is the mer-persons role to speak for an ocean – and its creatures – that can’t speak for itself. She’s a real-life Ariel using her skills to drive more focus upon marine conservation.

Follow her mission to inspire others to live their best mermaid life on TikTok: @themermaidelle

5. Creating More Youth Conservationists: Julia Aveline Rabenjoro

Julia is one of the youngest, and most “decorated” PADI diver with several certifications under her dive belt. Julia started her diving journey with PADI on her 8th birthday in Sabah, Borneo. Julia went on to obtain her Junior Open Water when she was 10 and her Junior Advanced when she was 12. Julia is now 14 and has just taken her Junior Rescue Diver course. Julia also started freediving at the end of last year and she is now a certified PADI Basic Freediver. Diving has helped Julia to find her passion in conserving the ocean, which caused her to create the Seed of Hope Facebook page to raise awareness and funds for ocean causes, while inspiring other young ocean advocates to do the same.

Follow her mission to plant seeds of hope in communities on Facebook: @JuliaIntoTheBlue

6. Making The Ocean Accessible to All: Cody Unser

Image credit: Cody Unser

Cody Unser, a daughter of Indy 500 racing greats, founded The Cody Unser First Step Foundation at the age of 13 to raise awareness, medical collaboration and quality of life for Transverse Myelitis, the autoimmune condition that left her suddenly paralyzed as a teen  in 1999. Her foundation’s focus on mainstreaming adaptive scuba for over a decade and its potential as a therapeutic tool in exercise science is creating a buzz in the medical and dive industries. Regardless of the injury or condition, Cody advocates for others to become adaptive divers as well. Through her foundation, she established Cody’s Great Scuba Adventure, which uses scuba diving as a therapeutic and psychological tool for people living with different forms of paralysis. Her  documentary, “Sea of Change,” explored the neurological and psychological effects of scuba on a group of chosen paralyzed veterans.

She has become a leading advocate for people living with disabilities and spends much of her time traveling across the country to deliver keynote speeches, attend medical symposia and help other grassroots organisations that have similar missions.

Learn more about how Cody is breaking down barriers on PADI’s Podcast: Dive Stories.

7 + 8. Showing the World How Amazing the Ocean is: Elise Gibbins and Mia Stawinski

Image credit: Elise Gibbins

Mia and Elise are award winning underwater and topside filmmakers and photographers. Elise is a PADI Divemaster who harnesses her cinematography skills to drive awareness and has collaborated with NGO’s and commercial enterprises who are motivated to drive positive environmental change. Elise produces world class content campaigns that connect audiences to nature’s significance and humanity’s relationship with it, with a passion for highlighting endangered ecosystems.

Image credit: Mia Stawinski

They have teamed up to combine their passion and love for the underwater world with their background in underwater cinematography and photography.  Their goal is to highlight the beauty of the world’s magnificent marine life and landscapes while encouraging divers of all genders to explore and protect the ocean.

Follow their award winning content on Instagram: @wandervicariously and @elisegibbins

PADI  is the world’s largest ocean exploration and diver organisation, operating in 186 countries and territories, with a global network of more than 6,600 dive centres and resorts and over 128,000 professional members worldwide. PADI embodies a global commitment to ocean health and enables people around the world to seek adventure and save the ocean through underwater education, life-changing experiences and travel. Find out more at www.PADI.com

Miscellaneous Blogs

BOOT back with a bang!

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It has been three years since the prestigious BOOT event has taken place in Dusseldorf, Germany. But this year it was back with a bang. The show attracts water sports enthusiasts from around the world. Whether you are looking to spend millions on a super yacht (or just dream about it) or a few ££s on a diving accessory – there is something for everyone.

There were smiles on all the faces around the diving hall. The event offers not only a great chance to re-engage with dive centres, equipment suppliers, training agencies and more, but also the opportunity to catch up with old friends and to make some new ones along the way.

Talks and presentations boomed out from the main stage, whilst in the background, pools with clear sides allowed spectators to watch on as kids, divers and even mermaids took to the water.

There was loads of new dive gear from all the major manufactures to look at and try out. From essentials such as masks and fins, drysuits, computers, through to rebreathers and underwater photo and video equipment. In every size, shape and colour imaginable!

Boot is a whopping 8 day show that covers two weekends. The halls cover not only diving, but submarines, yachts, a host of other water sports, ocean art, conservation projects and more. You could spend days walking around it. It certainly got my step count up, having walked over 9 miles in a single day, exploring, looking at new diving equipment and planning trips for 2023 and beyond!

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Miscellaneous Blogs

Jeff chats to… Anca Vaida – Doctor, Actor, Director, Writer and Producer – about her love of Scuba Diving (Watch Video)

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In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Anca Vaida – Doctor (Consultant Psychiatrist), award winning Actor, Director, Writer, Producer and Scuba Diver, about her love of diving.

Anca is a Romanian Actor, Director, Writer and Producer, who trained at East 15 Acting school, London. She has won seven acting awards at a variety of international film festivals for playing the role of Dr Alex Ionescu in the TV series ‘Psyched!’, which she also wrote, directed and produced.

Some of Anca’s most notable projects include Crossing Continents on BBC radio, the film Can We Order First? which premiered at the Berlin Short Film Festival, the play Sorry, My Compassion is on the Blink at the Pleasance Theatre, London, and the play Fine and Dandy at the King’s Head Theatre.

A keen diver, Anca got her PADI Open Water Certification in 2012 and has gone on to dive in Sharm El Sheikh, Hurghada and Dahab in Egypt, as well as in Lefkada in Greece, The Cape Verde Islands and Miami, USA.

In her spare time, when not diving, Anca is also a Doctor (Consultant Psychiatrist) with 13 years’ experience in the NHS.

Find out more about Anca at: https://www.spotlight.com/5491-3425-9331


Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.

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